Stocking Up On Received Wisdom

Seeking insight, your correspondent gives the BBC a punt. He’s both impressed and unimpressed by what he discovers.

100% Clarkson-free
100% Clarkson-free – the 2016 Top Gear New Car Buyers [sic] Guide. It knows the price of everything…

The car magazine I usually buy has given up on price lists so I had to get the Top Gear 2016 New Car Buyers [sic] Guide. That should be buyer’s guide (the guide of one buyer) or buyers’ guide (the guide of lots of buyers). In no particular order I gleaned some new received wisdom.

Before I launch into that, I am in the position of having to Continue reading “Stocking Up On Received Wisdom”

Theme: Suspension – The Comfort Trap

We conclude March’s theme by wondering if the engineering ideal of suspension that thinks for itself is any closer to reality now than it was thirty years ago.

An early active ride Lotus Esprit prototype. Image:sportscars.tv
An early active ride Lotus Esprit prototype. Image:sportscars.tv

Pity the unfortunate suspension engineer, saddled with the seemingly impossible task of reconciling the hugely complex operating range of the motor vehicle against the twin imperatives of providing a comfortable ride for passengers, while allowing sufficient body control to allow for accurate and consistent handling. Under such constraints, the successful melding of conflicting forces acting vertically in ride and horizontally in cornering and steering, can only result in unhappy compromise. Continue reading “Theme: Suspension – The Comfort Trap”

Smelling The Wind Of Change

It’s time for yet another SUV. And yet another object lesson in why either the modern automobile or myself has lost the plot. 

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Caution: Smelling The Wind Of Change may cause drowsiness!

This time, it’s Maserati’s turn to ‘go Sports Utility’. Which isn’t so terrible in itself – after all it’s a clear case of ‘join ’em in the chorus or die singing your own melody’, but the resultant car, dubbed Levante, is as disappointing as it is dull.

I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the car in the metal (and in quite dimly-lit circumstances) at its unveiling at a local prestige car dealership, which made for an interesting study on the people the Levante has been designed for. Continue reading “Smelling The Wind Of Change”

Theme : Suspension – When Independence Goes Wrong

Defying convention and chiselling away at costs can be a recipe for disaster, as one manufacturer who ought to have known better found out.

chassis4c

Cast your eyes over this ‘platform’. If you’re keen on guessing games, you would take in the V-engine perched over the front wheel centreline, front struts, complex looking independent rear suspension, and all round disc brakes, and conclude that it was probably ‘80s or ‘90s, most likely from the upper end of a European or Japanese manufacturer’s range.
In which case you could scarcely be more wrong. The chassis belongs to a British Ford, introduced in 1966, and costing less than £1000 in its basic form. The Zephyr/Zodiac Mk.IV was the first mass-produced British Ford car to feature independent rear suspension. The trouble is, it wasn’t much good. Continue reading “Theme : Suspension – When Independence Goes Wrong”

Reflections On Chrome

Like Now That´s What I Call Music, this has become a series. I find myself peering closely at window trim as I walk about.

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The Peugeot 308 has better window trim than the Bentley Continental, which you wouldn’t expect. Only a brightwork obsessive would note that. Here is an example of the difference colour and trim make to a car. It’s a 2014-onward Peugeot 208. Small black cars aren’t that common, are they? Twenty years ago they were almost entirely unavailable which is why that Citroen Madame (?) we showed here was so unusual. Continue reading “Reflections On Chrome”

Gorfe’s Granadas: 1985 Mk 2 Ford Granada 2.0 L

Even Ford’s middle-spec Granadas came with a lot of appeal included as part of the reasonable purchase price, writes Myles Gorfe (chief assistant classics sub-editor).

1985 Ford Granada - just brilliant: source
1985 Ford Granada – just brilliant: source

Take this stunning Mk2 2.0 L model, for example (for sale here). There’s nothing wrong with this and a lot that’s totally 100% right. As standard you get the Granada’s effortless mile-munching ability, sharp looks, acres of room front and back, a huge boot and among the best interior fabrics the industry had on offer. It looks like it could stop bullets but is a soft as Kate Moss’s left cheek. Most buyers went for more upmarket trim than the original owner of this sky-blue stunner. However, some wanted to spend a bit less and did not go away unhappy with their purchase. While most manufacturers skimped on niceties like rear centre armrests and the quality of the cloth, Ford went the extra mile and a half to keep their loyal customers happy. And it shows. This is pure class. Continue reading “Gorfe’s Granadas: 1985 Mk 2 Ford Granada 2.0 L”

A photo for Sunday: Rolls Royce Silver Shadow

Here is a Silver Shadow with the glass compartment divider.

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This car has caused me to reflect on the “shoebox” theme of many 60s cars. The gross form is very simple. All the interest is in the proportions and the detailing. In the middle is the medium level of the design where little deviates from the engineering minimum of large boxes for the engine, passenger cell and the boot. Rolls Royce could rely on opulent materials and lustrous finish to carry the argument that this could be called the world’s best car. Continue reading “A photo for Sunday: Rolls Royce Silver Shadow”

“Are You Going Somewhere Nice This Easter?”

I passed a Ferrari California the other day. It looked OK to me, but that just goes to show how wrong I am.

Ferrari California - image : dailyautofix.com
Ferrari California – image : dailyautofix.com

On paper this car seems the ideal Ferrari for anyone who isn’t a trackday nutjob or doesn’t need the extra space that an FF, sorry GTC4 Lusso, provides for an extra set of golf clubs. It’s pretty fast, it handles as well as most driver’s limits require, it makes the requisite sound, and you have the choice of tin roof or open air. Nevertheless, you bought one at your peril knowing that this was a Hairdresser’s Car. Continue reading ““Are You Going Somewhere Nice This Easter?””

Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup

A free-wheeling act of random charity leaves our correspondent flummoxed.

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A strange thing happened last Saturday. Gawping out of the lounge window in the semi-comatose state common to the domesticated house male, I clocked a silver Golf GTI driving slowly down the road. As it passed, I noticed that the driver was peering intently at my house. Odd, especially as I was not even performing naked star jumps in the bay window, which is usually what attracts the eye (and the ire) of passer’s by.

The GTI performed a three-point turn and pulled up in front of my house. The driver, a man whom I did not recognise, got out and walked up the drive. He then set about examining my Clio, which was parked in front of the garage. Continue reading “Our Cars: 2009 RenaultSport Clio 200 Cup”

A Good photo for Friday: 1997-2002 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V

Before going on with this, I have to confess I have doctored the photo. As I took the photo there cycled past a man in fluorescent orange. He was right over the roof of the car in the un-altered image.

1993-1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V (modified)
1993-1997 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V (modified)

Twenty seconds later he was gone and the road reverted to the desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban stillness that prevailed. If I had been more alert, I could have waited a few seconds and then taken a genuine photo of a desolate, unpopulated and grimly suburban street. For that reason I don’t have a very bad consciousness about removing the cyclist who I could have avoided having in the first place merely by waiting. Continue reading “A Good photo for Friday: 1997-2002 Renault Espace 3.0 V6 24V”

Hindsight: The 1994 BMW 3-series Compact

We have recently discussed BMW’s invasion of the lower end of the market. This is the car that really kicked it off.

1994-2000 BMW 3-series compact: for the same money you could get a loaded Astra, Golf or Escort.
1994-2000 BMW 3-series compact: for the same money you could get a loaded Astra, Golf or Escort.

You don’t really notice these vehicles. They are dissolving into the background of the streetscape like any jaded old Escort or roughed-up, worn out and uncared for Astra or Golf. This one is in BMW’s Ignore Me dark blue. Base-model blue if you like.

The motoring press were in awe of this car when it came out. “A new 3-series for a song,” raved Car magazine in October 1994. They showed the front end of the car which, of course, was identical to the standard 3-series, just as the front end of a Chrysler Sunbeam was much the same as that of the Avenger. However, from the A-pillar back it was cost-cutting and decontenting as far back as the tail-pipe. Continue reading “Hindsight: The 1994 BMW 3-series Compact”

Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 2

Part two: Can PSA really make it in America? Driven to Write continues its investigation.

Image:citroenvie
Image:citroenvie

It is a truth widely acknowledged in crisis management that there are five key steps to corporate recovery. First: change the senior management. Second: rapidly identify and scope the nature of the problem. Third: take action to arrest losses by cutting the cost base. Four: Stabilise the business and five: return to growth. Up to now, PSA’s Carlos Tavares has stuck rigidly to this playbook, ruthlessly extracting cost from the business, yielding financial results that have had the industry’s top analysts patting his head in approval. Not only in regards to profit, but with financial metrics reputedly the envy of its rivals, PSA’s turnaround looks impressive. But stabilising the business is only stage four of the turnaround gameplan, finding growth in a stagnating market is a horse of an entirely different stripe. Continue reading “Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 2”

Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 1

Part one: Recent reports suggest PSA are considering a return to the US market. Are they out of their minds?

Peugeot had modest US success with the 505 model. Image:productioncars
Peugeot had modest US success with the 505 model. Image:productioncars

If it isn’t chiseled in stone somewhere, it probably should be. Because if you want to make a success of the auto business, you really do need a viable (and profitable) presence in the United States – it’s simply too big, too diverse and too lucrative a market to ignore. Conversely, it’s also amongst the toughest to break into. Casualties are inevitable, even for the more successful entrants; an unintended acceleration issue here, a diesel scandal there, but you only have to track the fortunes of the auto-absentees to understand the price of retrenchment. Continue reading “Coming Back to America? PSA Looks West : 1”

Browsing the High Street – Kensington Style

With no news at all to report on Bristol Cars, we just give the pot a little stir.

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Citroen, Lancia, the Toyota Crown … those who visit this site frequently will notice that some subjects recur more often than others. One that, surprisingly, doesn’t (at least not since last June) is another of our one-time fixations, Bristol Cars. In November 2010, I spent a very interesting half hour with Bristol’s then head, Toby Silverton, in Bristol’s Kensington showrooms. His enthusiasm for the Fighter was infectious, and I still imagine it would be a worthwhile car to have. Continue reading “Browsing the High Street – Kensington Style”

A postcard from 1969

I found this postcard in a charity shop among fifty other relics from someone’s trip to Switzerland and northern Italy.

1969 Lancia Flavia saloon in Stresa, Italy (the Palace of Congress).
1969 Lancia Flavia saloon in Stresa, Italy (the Palace of Congress).

The car is 1969 Lancia Flavia saloon. That shadow is a little unfortunate. Can anyone say what the car in the background might be?

Theme : Suspension – Hydrolastic Rubbery Goodness

A long time ago the Midlands of Britain were at the cutting edge of suspension design.

Hydrolastic suspension: source
Hydrolastic suspension: source

In 1955 Citroen presented their DS which had a suspension system markedly different from the ones with which drivers were familiar. The British Motor Corporation picked up Citroen’s fragrant gauntlet. Their attempt to improve ride and handling went under the name hydrolastic and they offered it first on the period’s equivalent of a bog-standard family car, the 1100-series (born as ADO16). Continue reading “Theme : Suspension – Hydrolastic Rubbery Goodness”

Theme : Suspension – Swinging On A Star

The missing link, or just missing a link. We consider the much maligned swing axle.

A Spitfire demonstrates the swing axle's graceful poise - image : triumphexp.com
A Spitfire demonstrates the swing axle’s graceful poise – image : triumphexp.com

The swing axle is the first stop when considering how to make the movement of two rear wheels, previously attached to a solid axle, independent of each other. Simply pivot the shafts either side of the differential and have the two wheels bounce up and down, describing an arc around their respective pivot points. It’s a basic system with many shortcomings but, bearing in mind it dates back to the early days of the motor car, when it was patented by Edmund Rumpler in 1903, that is understandable. Continue reading “Theme : Suspension – Swinging On A Star”

Theme: Suspension – It’s A Kind Of Magic

The suspension system is where the car comes into contact with the road and tries to a) keep it there and b) pretend as if the road doesn’t exist. That’s a lot to ask…

1983 Peugeot 604. Image: www.lrm-collection.fr
1983 Peugeot 604. Image: http://www.lrm-collection.fr

…and then get precious little thanks in return from customers or indeed motoring journalists. The former probably don’t know what suspension is. The latter want all suspension to do the same thing, namely to keep fast cars stuck on the tarmac at 145 mph. This conflict is as big as the one facing the suspension itself, which must mediate between the undulating road and the dynamic system that is the car in motion. The other circle to be squared is that of ride comfort versus handling. Continue reading “Theme: Suspension – It’s A Kind Of Magic”

Geneva Bites – What’s happening to Toyota?

Until recently, Toyota made the sort of cars which wouldn’t say boo to a goose, to use that strange, but expressive phrase. All that seems to be about to change.

Toyota C-HR Concept Frankfurt 2015 Image: autovia-media

The Mirai and latest Prius look as if they would cross a busy road themselves if there was a goose-booing opportunity on the other side, and the C-HR crossover which debuted at Geneva keeps up the trend. In the current manner, it’s tamed down a bit from the C-HR concept shown last year at Frankfurt. However it still tends towards the egregious.

I’ve been inured to this since the shock of the Nissan Juke, and I think the Toyota hangs together rather better. Am I alone in thinking that there’s something of the Type 844 Delta about the C-HR? Lancia might have done better with that car had it been a high-riding crossover with a bit of ‘attitude’, after all it arrived on the market over a year after the Nissan Cashcow. Continue reading “Geneva Bites – What’s happening to Toyota?”

Theme: Suspension – Cheap and Cheerful

What do most modern small and medium-sized cars have in common? Well, nearly everything.

As modern as can be, at the time. Image: honestjohn.co.uk
1950 Ford Consul. As modern as can be, at the time. Image: honestjohn.co.uk

They are almost all front-wheel drive, with the four-cylinder in-line engine in the front. And almost all of them have MacPherson suspension. Prizes if you can think of an exception. In 2004 the market for small cars consisted of the Fiat Panda, Daewoo Matiz, City Rover, Skoda Fabia and Daihatsu Charade (among others). They all had MacPherson struts. Moving to the present day this is still true nearly all the medium-sized cars are so equipped. Continue reading “Theme: Suspension – Cheap and Cheerful”

Geneva Bites – Origin of the SUV Species

Who would have thought it? Kaiser-Willys are stablemates with Ferrari and Maserati…

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The word ‘icon’ was tediously ubiquitous in the media day presentations, but Jeep served us up a veritable triptych on their stand: Willys Jeep in military trim, Willys Jeep Station Wagon, and a fine example of the 1963-91 Jeep Wagoneer. The original Jeep needs no introduction, but the station wagon possibly does. It is significant that Willys carried over the military vehicle’s name for the steel-bodied passenger utility, even though 4WD only became available three years after its 1946 launch. Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Origin of the SUV Species”

1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Road Test

Legendary motoring journalist Archie Vicar reviews Chrysler’s 1977 Sunbeam.

1977 Chrysler Sunbeam: source
1977 Chrysler Sunbeam: source

(This is apparently a review for the East Scotland Motoring Week, published in November, 1977. The original photos were by Douglas Land-Windermere. Due to a devastating fire at the processing lab stock images have been used.)

The Rootes factory in Linwood is thrumming with activity. With the magnificent Imp a recent memory, and the stalwart Avenger in volume production, the factory now has a new task: Sunbeams, the building thereof.

The Sunbeam is a logical progression from the Imp. It’s a bit bigger, a bit more refined and much more spacious. It also offers the advantages of rear wheel drive but with the engine in the front. While other makers are caving in to demands of the bean-counters, Chrysler are staying true to rear-wheel drive with their new entrant to the small car market. Let’s Continue reading “1977 Chrysler Sunbeam Road Test”

First Of Its Kind/Last Of Its Kind: The Mercedes W126 – Part One

The car that would come to be defined as the quintessential S-class actually was a deeply conservative vanguard of modern engineering. However, its legacy was not to last.

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A black wreckage with blown-off bonnet and deflated tyres, lying across a cordoned-off street. This is how most Germans of a certain generation remember the Mercedes W126, the S-class model of the 1980s.

In the autumn of 1989, Alfred Herrhausen, chairman of Deutsche Bank, as well as head of Daimler-Benz AG’s supervisory board, was killed on his way to work by the blast of a roadside bomb. Herrhausen had been one of the most influential economic leaders of West Germany, and certainly the most charismatic among them. A proponent of challenging concepts, he advocated the need for global corporate expansion, as well as debt relief for Third World countries. Continue reading “First Of Its Kind/Last Of Its Kind: The Mercedes W126 – Part One”

Geneva Bites – Citroën: Back in the Wacky Races

Citroën has a mountain to climb. Is quirkiness the answer?

Citroen A (2)
Less interesting than an out of town retail park  Image:autovia-media

Unless you are won over by the C4 Cactus, or still dreaming the MPV dream while the world turns to SUVs, you will find the current Citroën collection dreary and dispiriting. Old cars, odd cars, Mitsubishi ‘captives’. So what’s the solution, apart from More Airbumps, as promised by CEO Linda Jackson? Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Citroën: Back in the Wacky Races”

Whatever Floats Your Boat

We discuss the problems of car styling a lot here and, maybe, we’re unreasonably unsympathetic to the designer’s lot. After all, what do you do when you have a 5 metre length of metal to deal with? It’s a daunting task.

MY Azzam + Applique Rodius to scale - original image : schiffbilder.de
MY Azzam plus, if you look very hard, SsangYong Rodius to scale – original image : schiffbilder.de

Possibly the most universally scorned piece of automotive styling of recent years is the first generation SsangYong Rodius. This car bemused many observers, and the reasoning behind it was only explained slightly by learning that the shape was intended to evoke a luxury yacht, thus insulting yacht designers the World over. So what does yacht design really look like? Continue reading “Whatever Floats Your Boat”

Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Eight

The Gamma’s most formidable rival may surprise you, but should it really have surprised Lancia’s lords and masters?

Image: autorevue.cz
Image: autorevue.cz

When Lancia’s half dead remains turned up on Fiat’s doorstep in 1969, the product drawers may well have been empty, but there was a clear and logical model hierarchy in place. So it’s peculiar that Sergio Camuffo saw fit to disrupt this well defined model stratification with the first of his new-era Lancia’s – 1972’s Beta Berlina. Continue reading “Gamma: Signs and Portents – Part Eight”

Theme: Suspension – Not As Good As It Sounds But Still An Improvement

Suspension systems are inherently reactive. One approach to managing the response of the body to road surface changes is adaptive ride suspension. Is it really any different from passive systems?

Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG (W222) 2013: autoevolution.com
Mercedes-Benz S 63 AMG (W222) 2013: autoevolution.com

In both passive and active systems, the road surface’s variations are the main input to the body and suspension system. Passive systems are designed to build in to the suspension the capacity to absorb energy so that the body movement is controlled and tyre contact to the road surface is maximized. Active suspensions involve the use of actuators to change the height of the body at each corner of the car. This additional mechanism requires the use of variable-rate shock absorbers and dampers. The active ride system needs sensors to Continue reading “Theme: Suspension – Not As Good As It Sounds But Still An Improvement”

2016 Geneva Motor Show Colour Analysis

Yet again Driven To Write spoils its loyal readers with an article worth millions of money. It’s an exclusive colour chip analysis of the main concept cars and launches at this year’s show.

2016 Geneva colours
2016 Geneva colours: colours sampled from here

If you Google the term “2016 Geneva Motor Show Colour Analysis” you won’t get a much more exact result than this page. Continue reading “2016 Geneva Motor Show Colour Analysis”

Mod Culture – Giving In To Temptation

I guess you can’t keep a good rodder down.

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In December I wrote about the Cord restomod, being produced in Roy Brizio’s workshops. I’ve been keeping as eye on the ongoing project photos, and the car now looks more-or-less complete. Now the following is not a criticism of owner Chuck Thornton’s choice, just a comment based on my own preferences. Continue reading “Mod Culture – Giving In To Temptation”

Geneva Bites – Nuova Tipo

Missing the Marea? Still smitten by the Stilo? Sergio’s got something for you.

Image:ansa.it
Image:ansa.it

Is Sergio Marchionne still shaking flak out of his bulk-knit cardigan? His demeanour on the first media day may have suggested otherwise, and FCA’s workrate can’t be faulted, notwithstanding more than a little help from their Japanese and Turkish friends. The recently launched, Turkish-built Tipo saloon, was joined at Geneva by a five door hatchback and a useful looking estate car. The saloon and hatch could be dead ringers for the – wholly unrelated – Qoros 3, even down to the chrome doorhandles. Some also saw echoes of the Brava and Marea. Can it really be twenty years since these hire fleet heroes first appeared?

Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Nuova Tipo”

Understanding the Market

The world has changed a lot in 20 years. Among those changes are those we have discussed here lately concerning BMW’s astonishing expansion.

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For this study I have compared the total range and prices of three brands of cars between 1995 and 2014, the last year for which I have the data in one magazine in my living room. (The graph says 2016 though). The prices are inflation adjusted to 2015 values. For example, a 3-series started at £15,000 in 1995 and this is worth £27,000 today. I have selected the base price of the main models and not included options. All of the cheapest cars in standard trim could be specced up and I have omitted this and focused on the lowest standard price.

The figures are remarkable. Continue reading “Understanding the Market”

Geneva Oddities: Citroen Space Tourer Hyphen

While browsing around the pickings and leavings of the 2016 Geneva Motor Show I found this. It’s the Space Tourer from Citroen.

2016 Citroen Space Tourer Hyphen: source
2016 Citroen Space Tourer Hyphen: source

Autocar, Car and Car & Driver forgot to mention it, as far as I know. But Autoblog gave it some space – we salute you. It’s quite a refreshing combination of shapes and graphic design. They ought to put it into production. It’s huge fun. Continue reading “Geneva Oddities: Citroen Space Tourer Hyphen”

A Nubar Brougham

Of late DTW has taken a liking to the term ‘brougham’ with our interpretation of it deriving from its use in the post-War US motor industry.

image : bonhams.com
image : bonhams.com

A true, horse-drawn brougham from the 19th Century was an upright carriage, reasonably compact and nimble, with enclosed and comfortable seating for two in the rear, facing forward, leaving a view ahead through glass of the driver and footman exposed to the elements on a raised front seat. In the earlier days of motoring, the transition was quite faithful but, as with other terms from the coachbuilding industry, such as landau, coupe de ville and cabriolet, it began being used more for its classy sound than for its strict adherence to a traditional template. Continue reading “A Nubar Brougham”

Geneva Bites – Where’s Me Jumper?

Our roving reporter gets his coat. 

Image:autovia.com
Image:autovia.com

2016 wasn’t a classic Geneva, but a good social occasion. The big surprise this year was how well dressed everyone was. Everybody looked like they were somebody important, fashion victims abounded. Previously the norm was casual to the point of being unkempt, particularly those with ‘design’ or ‘styling’ in their job titles. I think there was a secret plot to Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Where’s Me Jumper?”

Something Rotten in Denmark: 1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS Estate

Periodically I look around for an interesting car I might want to see in the metal. As is usually the case they are never within easy reach of my front door. This one, a grey and sad CX is in Copenhagen.

1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS with its usual feature: source
1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS with its usual feature: source

With every passing year Citroen made the CX less and less desirable. Some of it was not their fault. The world began its turn against colour in the middle 1980s. By 1986 most CXs came in dispiriting shades of grey. This one has rumpled and worn nylon upholstery and cruelly dull pale grey plastic everywhere. The forms are less pleasant than the first series cars and the quality of the plastic markedly inferior. Even if this car was in good condition, it would still be a whole mass of drear. Continue reading “Something Rotten in Denmark: 1986 Citroen CX 2.2 TRS Estate”

Pininfarina’s Towering Ambition

Pininfarina is perhaps the world’s best known automotive design consultancy, but now they’re setting their sights higher. About 95-metres to be precise.

Pininfarina/Aecom's proposed control tower building for Istanbul Grand Airport. Image:dailysabah
Pininfarina/Aecom’s proposed control tower building for Istanbul Grand Airport. Image:dailysabah

35km west of Istanbul near Arnavutköy, lies possibly the largest construction site in existence. Rising from reclaimed land on the Black sea coast, the Istanbul Grand Airport terminal is currently under construction; the design of which is led by UK architectural practice, Scott Brownrigg. With an area of 1.3 million square meters, it will be the largest airport terminal – potentially the largest building in the world. The first phase will provide for up to 90 million passengers per annum, but once the phase three is completed, the airport will see over 150 million passengers through its gates each year. Now that is big. Continue reading “Pininfarina’s Towering Ambition”

Geneva Bites – Japanese Concepts: The Bad

Roving reporter, Robertas Parazitas continues his trawl through the fleshpots of Geneva. Two concepts in particular captured his ire.

Image: autovia-media

Mazda RX-Vision:  A woefully silly car from a manufacturer which is getting so much right.

Lexus LF-FC:  A certain appealing lairiness, but they need to try harder.

BMW Is A Hundred Years Old

BMW celebrates its century with a blizzard of PR bafflegab

2016 BMW Vision 100 is not a CUV: source
2016 BMW Vision 100 is not a CUV. Small dots are the future though: source

They got a little mixed up with the concepts of ends and means though. BMW has cited four elements that constitute its values and have sketched a new and thrillingly meaningless corporate logo. Continue reading “BMW Is A Hundred Years Old”

Taking the Scenic Route

Now that Renault’s Scenic has got a buff new body, will everybody want one?

Yep, it's the flippin' Scenic again. Image:ultimatecarblog
Yep, it’s the flippin’ Scenic again. Image: source

We auto-purists are a tough lot to please, applauding the likes of Renault for creating practical, sensible and versatile car designs which the market promptly shuns. Stung by the lack of acceptance, they attempt a redress and we throw fruit. Last week saw a debate take place here around the merits of the just-debuted Renault Scenic. Without being scientific about it, I’d call the consensus a broadly positive one, but with a mildly grudging undertone. Continue reading “Taking the Scenic Route”

Geneva Bites – Japanese Concepts: The Good

Roving reporter Robertas Parazitas sifts Japanese conceptual wheat from chaff at Geneva.

Image: autovia-media

The Japanese car makers treated us to a veritable host of concept cars. Some were production cars in all but detail, others are pointers to the more distant, but credible future, which probably still includes doorhandles and window frames, and possibly, just possibly sub-20″ diameter wheels.

In the best pre-Boring Boring CAR tradition, I’ve divided them into the Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

The Good: Mitsubishi Concept eX.  An electric crossover – what else could it be these days? Strongly suggests that Mitsubishi are finding their way back.

Nissan IDS concept. First seen at Frankfurt, and named in honour of British politician Ian Duncan Smith, who has 12.5% Japanese content. Just how much will make it to the next Leaf? Going by recent experience, more than we might think.

Subaru XV Concept:  Presages the XV replacement – shouldn’t it be the XVI?  A bit tame, but Gulf colours always win me over:

Suspension – (Of Disbelief)

Our editor will be cross with me for appropriating this month’s theme in such an arbitrary manner, but the title did rather suggest itself.

A good decade late to market. Alfa Romeo's Kamal concept. Image:digitaltrends
Alfa Romeo’s 2003 Kamal concept – 13 years later we’ll finally see a production version. Image:digitaltrends

Last year Alfa Romeo revealed the Giulia berlina well before it was ready, allowing damaging rumours of engineering issues and rushed development to take hold. FCA management launched the Giulia early to reassure potential investors of the robustness of Alfa Romeo’s expansion plans and to strengthen their negotiating hand in talks with General Motors. So while the reasons for its botched launch are understandable, I’m sure it’s one Marchionne regrets, given the ensuing damage to both his own and Alfa Romeo’s credibility.  Continue reading “Suspension – (Of Disbelief)”

Theme: Suspension – Not Quite De Dion

I spotted this on the Suzuki stand at Geneva. It’s the rear axle of the Vitara, the Hungarian-built Poor Girl’s Evoque.

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At first I thought that it was a De Dion axle, on closer examination it turns out to be a torsion beam with driven rear wheels. Possibly other manufacturers have done this before, but it’s the first I’ve encountered. I’d have expected to find a live axle, or a multi-link or double wishbone fully independent system. Continue reading “Theme: Suspension – Not Quite De Dion”

Geneva Bites -The Abarth Garage

Lancia don’t live here any more…

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I stood in the north west corner of Palexpo’s Hall 5 which has been the traditional home of Lancia for many years, and my fears were confirmed. Turin’s second most successful carmaker had left the building – hold on, wasn’t that Alvis? Did I walk through the empty house, tears in my eyes? Not really. Continue reading “Geneva Bites -The Abarth Garage”

Theme : Suspension – Only Fools & Horses?

We have a look at the humble leaf spring and ask whether it deserves universal scorn.

Leaf Spring

I’ve always been a suspension snob, especially on the subject of leaf springs, normally referred to by fellow scorners as cart-springs. And indeed, the use of something that you’d have found on a one horse power medieval cart on a 150mph Ferrari still seems as wrong to me today as it did when I was a picky kid and first realised what lurked under those exotic red bodies..

The first car I ever ‘owned’ was a Ford Prefect E93A that I used to drive as a 14 year old around a bit of woodland. Even at the 20 mph maximum it was possible to achieve weaving around all the trees, I still managed to turn it onto its side, a tribute to my recklessness, a high centre of gravity and its very, very basic suspension which stretched back to the Model T, comprising a beam axle at the front and a live axle at the rear, both mounted on transverse leaves. Continue reading “Theme : Suspension – Only Fools & Horses?”

Theme of Last Month: Special- 1995 Peugeot 106 Roland Garros

These are likeable special editions, something of a fixture in Peugeot’s catalogue in the 1990s: the Roland Garros series.

1995 (?) Peugeot 106 Roland Garros edition
1995 (?) Peugeot 106 Roland Garros edition

The 205 and 306 also appeared in this livery. After two decades it remains fresh unlike many colourways of the same time. The 106 Wikipedia entry is schtumm on the topic (the English one) of these cars.

Evidently the RG edition functioned as a stable trim variant more than a limited edition. Have they done anything like this since? It’s not really very European to “brougham” a car in the American style, is it?

Geneva Bites – Morgan EV3

As Britain’s four grandest car manufacturers prepared their four wheel drive SUVs, Morgan defied the new conformity, and introduced a one wheel drive vehicle in late 2011.

Morgan (9)
image: autovia-media

The three wheeler has vastly exceeded sales expectations with over 2000 sold to date. Morgan may well prefer that we didn’t know just how well their three wheeler is doing by comparison with the rest of the range. 2013 and 2014 three wheeler sales were well over double the combined numbers for the four wheeled offerings, and over its four full years of production it has accounted for 55% of Morgan production. Continue reading “Geneva Bites – Morgan EV3”

A Photo for Sunday : 1966 Ford Galaxie 500

I’ve always had a soft spot for the stacked headlamp Ford Galaxie 500.

Galaxie 500

In 1965, in a moment of family insanity, my Dad and I nearly agreed that he should get a new 4 door Galaxie. Good sense prevailed in the end since, despite my liking for it, it was a stupid car to buy in the UK – overpriced and unsuited to the roads. Here’s a 1966 two door, spotted in Wandsworth a couple of Sundays ago. It’s got a decent sized 390 cu inch V8 (one down from the big 7 litre) and looks good on a set of obligatory Magnum 500 wheels. Old US barges always look incongruous when you come across them in the UK, which inevitably endears me to the people who are odd enough to keep them. Continue reading “A Photo for Sunday : 1966 Ford Galaxie 500”

Parallel Universe Levante – 2

Once you cross a Rubicon, there’s no going back. Maserati probably had little choice but to go crossover, but they weren’t without options. Last week we looked at one. Here’s another.

50% of Bellagio production right there. Image:automotive.com
50% of Bellagio production right there. Image:automotive.com

I think it’s universally agreed most things sound better in Italian. In fact I’d be prepared to wager even the Italian for enema sounds vaguely appealing. A personal favourite however is the Italian term for coachbuilder – carrozzeria. For me it conjures faded monochrome images of artisans hand beating aluminium sheet into something far lovelier than was strictly necessary. Most carrozzerie’s created memorable work, but Touring Superleggera’s back-catalogue of innovative design, spanned from the 1930’s and some of the most significant body shapes created for manufacturers like Bristol, Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Jensen, Aston Martin and Maserati. Continue reading “Parallel Universe Levante – 2”

Geneva 2016 Posted Missing – Lancia

Obituaries are probably premature, but has Lancia’s traditional Geneva presence been bulldozed in the Giulia frenzy?

Lancia IAA Photo autovia-media
2016 Lancia Ypsilon at Geneva

Lancia was not on the Geneva exhibitors list, but I fully expected a few Ypsilons to show their fresh new face on a small, but rather stylish, stand in some enclave of Sergio’s Palexpo empire. It happened at Frankfurt, but not in Geneva – the traditional Lancia space was occupied by Abarth instead, with a rather jolly display of 124 Spiders and a 695 Biposto. Continue reading “Geneva 2016 Posted Missing – Lancia”